Udo Dirkschneider, known originally for his involvement with the band Accept in the early 70’s, has made a name for himself and his current band, U.D.O., in the world of metal. This German metal band is made up by Udo Dirkschneider (vocals), Andrey Smirnov (guitar), Fitty Wienhold (bass), Kasperi Heikkinen (guitar), and Sven Dirkschneider (drums.) U.D.O. released their 15th studio album, Decadent, under AFM Records in early February.
U.D.O. was formed by Udo Dirkschneider in 1987, after parting with former band, Accept. “After the Russian Roulette album with Accept, the rest of the guys wanted to be more commercial and they wanted to break the American market. But at that time you know there was always a lot of business people around and what can I say? It was like they wanted to have another singer with a more American style. We had different ideas,” recalled Dirkshneider.
Dirkshneider and his distinct vocals gathered a huge following during his days with Accept. His former band-mates also gave him the rights to the previously unreleased album, Animal House, making his transition into U.D.O. a smooth one. “Yeah and so in a way the solo album was already written, the ‘Animal House’ album, as they [Accept] wanted to be friendly at this time it was made very easy for me to go solo. It was like ‘Yeah, OK you can use these songs. It’s OK we don’t need them for the new album we want to do something completely different.’ So that was the start of U.D.O.”
Regardless of the many changes Dirkschneider has faced in his career, he has wasted no time pounding out the albums for his fans. Between 1987 and 1991, Dirkschneider released four studio albums with U.D.O.: Animal House, 1988’s Mean Machine, 1990’s Faceless World and 1991’s Timebomb. He then returned to Accept for three albums—1993’s Objection Overruled, 1994’s Death Row and 1996’s Predator—but when that reunion soured, U.D.O. reappeared, with an almost entirely new lineup (only drummer Stefan Schwarzmann remained from the 1991 version of the band). Since restarting U.D.O. with 1997’s Solid, Dirkschneider has remained fast and furious in his art– releasing an album roughly every two years, with compilations and live discs in between.
Since U.D.O.’s initial formation, the band has graced the stage with other familiar bands such as Mötley Crüe, KISS, Guns N’ Roses, Exodus, and Amon Amarth. With over 40 years of experience in the music industry, Dirkshneider has gathered plenty of inspiration for his music. “I’ve been around the world and seen many things. Those always come out in the lyrics. The lyrics are usually about things which are happening in the here and now,” said Dirkschneider, describing the lyrical process behind the shroud of U.D.O.’s music. But what inspired their latest title track, Decadent?
“I saw an advertisement on TV about an organization that works with children. They were showing kids in Africa, the kids that have nothing to eat and looked really horrible. And that was the start for Decadent. Let’s say Germany or America, they’re rich countries, but they have something wrong in this world. That’s where I came up with the idea to write lyrics for the Decadent album, specifically the song Decadent,” explained Dirkschneider. The graphic music video for Decadent, which illustrates the divide between the rich and poor, can be viewed below.
When asked whether he connected to any of the tracks in particular, Dirkshneider answered the way any passionate musician would. “In a way, I connected to all of them! Pain is a really good song. It’s based on the all the bad situations right now in this world. As soon as you turn on the news you will hear about another bombs exploded somewhere, that there was another shooting at a school, there is war in several areas of the world and so on. It is more horror story than news. The question in the song is, ‘how much pain can we still take?’ But, still, it’s hard to pick a favorite for me, because I liked all of them,” Dirkschneider explained. For fans that have yet to be exposed to the full force brutality that is Pain, the track can also be viewed below.
It’s safe to say that Decadent is grittier and more socially conscious than your average metal album. Gritty and shrill—this power metal album brings to the table what many metal bands in the U.S. do not. The album hosts the same melodic riffs and Dirkschneider’s hoarse, screeching vocals that made U.D.O. a household name.
Dirkschneider asserted that Decadent will show no changes in U.D.O.’s sound, despite the changes in lineup. “The biggest difference was really who is playing in the album. The bass player from the last album is not in the band anymore. But now I think that the difference between Steelhammer and Decadent is that we’ve really come together as a band. I mean, now I have a completely new lineup with two new guitar players. Kasperi and Andrey, they’re really young, and they helped with the songwriting process. It’s a different generation that comes up with new ideas. Still classic metal… but in a different way. We also have two old fashioned guys, Fitty and me, so it’s a whole mix-up now. I mean, the mix up made everything interesting and I think Decadent itself is a very interesting album,” said Dirkschneider.
Unlike other U.D.O. albums, such as Rev-Raptor, Dirkschneider said that the band made an effort to work on Decadent face to face, rather than over the internet. “After recruiting two new guitar players I wanted to see what they would add to the sound, to see if they were coming up with new composing stuff and interesting songs. A lot of surprises came up so we started writing a lot of songs together as a lot of the songs were written by the whole band, I am really happy. At the start of May we had a lot of ideas and decided which songs we were going to do and start working on it. It was also their first time playing together in the studio and we had to find out how it worked. We did everything quite easily; we’re in a lucky position as we have our own studio in Spain. We take our time to record the album, it was very interesting and what can I say? I am very happy with it,” continued Dirkschneider.
Where many may tire of their projects, especially after 40 years, Dirkschneider says it has never been difficult to find the motivation to produce more music. “It’s very simple to say… I’m very lucky. This is my passion. I love to sing and create new songs. I mean, what can I say? I still have fun to do this. I think that’s the point that keeps me going. And I think if you have the right feeling about songs, then you push yourself up to the limit,” said Dirkschneider.
Considering the band’s newest member, it would seem that being an outstanding musician doesn’t fall too far from the family tree. After the departure of long-time drummer Francesco Jovino, Sven Dirkschneider, Udo Dirkschneider’s son was recently announced to be chosen as the next drummer for U.D.O. According to the band’s website, Sven was chosen after a long series of auditions and is stated to be the perfect drummer to complete this heavy-metal quintet. “His style of playing drums is fresh and really grooves heavily. It simply is exactly what we need for U.D.O. We also know that Sven fits perfectly into the band family. He has been working as a drum tech for us for more than four years and we know from several world tours that everyone likes him and gets along with him perfectly,“ announced the band on their website.
Leaving a hugely successful path in their wake, U.D.O. now faces a busy (and equally prosperous) future. “Yeah, our tour’s coming up. We’ll be doing a European tour in the beginning of May then we’ll do a lot of festivals over the summer. In the beginning of September then December we’ll do the second part of the European tour in South America, Japan. Between May and December we’ll be doing a tour all through Europe and Canada. We’re hoping to work out some shows in the U.S. too. It’s really great!”
“I’m looking forward to the tour and hopefully coming to the U.S. and I hope everybody comes to the show. Each show is going to be over two hours so there will be plenty of time to enjoy it!” The full list of upcoming tours can be found on U.D.O.’s website.
Decadent is another step up in what could be a new and more diverse era for the German metal legend. With Udo himself showing no signs of slowing, one can safely expect many more albums from this powerful band before all is said and done.